Thursday, July 31, 2008

Time Flies...

... or seems to.

It's been just over a week since Geopher Lite was released. In that time we've managed to get an update from apple through the works and get everyone's hopes up. And dashed. =)

Yeah... about the google maps thing... Long story short, I kept hearing about how people were using the google maps directions to do geocaching. So, I added a link using google maps directions. Little did I know that it snapped to the closest street. What can I say, I was so happy about developing geopher that I've used that instead of google maps for geocaching. =) I'll fix this with the next version.

In the meantime, may I suggest using Geopher Lite's target screen to get you the rest of the way to the cache if you need to.

I've already got the next version well under way. I'll be doing some more coding this evening on the next update. I'm not going to rush it into the review process like I did the last one. I'll get it in there in a timely manner, but it won't be like last time, within 24 hours of the launch of Geopher Lite.

Keep the comments and critique coming. =)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Geopher Lite 1.0.3 Now available

... or is it?

About an hour ago I got an email from apple. The relevant portion is here:

and here:

I haven't seen any change on the iTunes store and it's still listed as in review, but it's not really...? Odd. Keep an eye out, hopefully that changes here soon and the update will really be available. Keep your fingers crossed! =)

Update: the updated app is now available via the iTunes store.


Quick update.

I am a bit disappointed that apple hasn't released my update to Geopher Lite yet. I was hoping that it would be today. No such luck.

I've been pretty busy the last few days and haven't had much of a chance to work on Geopher Lite. I'm losing a bit of sleep tonight and tweaking a few things here and there. I've made some headway on the battery life, but probably lost all that I gained due to not having the device go to sleep when on the target screen. I've also throttled back the location updates from continuous to every few feet. And lastly I've added some tweaks to the coordinate entering system -- it will now auto-fill your direction (NESW) and the hours portion of the coordinate.

I've also started down the road of changing the compass to rotate and given some thought on skins. I am planning on spending more time tomorrow evening on Geopher Lite, I'll let you know more then. Also, once I get some more visible changes I'll post some more screenshots. It's getting a bit dull in here. =)

As a side note, I took my iPhone 3g with me geocaching today and found two caches. Everything worked smoothly. Geocaching at it's best; logging the cache as you are standing there is quite nice.

More later.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Q & A

A number of suggestions and comments have been posted, I feel like I should address a few.

Regarding battery life. I am in the process of changing the way that Geopher Lite gets updates from the GPS unit, as it is more frequent than it needs to be right now. However, this may not be enough to take care of the battery problem, the GPS will still be on in the background. I may change this so that if you are within a certain distance from your target the GPS is on all the time (like right now), but before that it turns on and off for updates. The big problem comes in when turning it on or off, if the GPS will be as accurate or not. I'm playing with a few things and am working on this, I'll keep you posted.

Regarding Inputting coordinates. This is a concern and I've done a few things to make this easier, but it's still not great. Without writing my own keyboard, I'm not sure how much I can do here. I am planning on at least auto-entering the NESW letters depending on current location for the user, that way it's all just the numbers portion. I have also tried splitting up the single text field into multiple text fields, but it seems to me to be harder to use that way. I haven't tried using the menu-type scroll picker, I may look at that as well. I'll keep playing with this and see what I can do. No promises, but I'll try to have something for the update after the one that is in review with this in mind.

Regarding downloadable maps. I believe some of the bigger GPS companies (like TomTom and Telenav) are looking into making a more general purpose GPS software solution for the iPhone. I can't compete with that and don't really want to -- these companies do that already and they are very good at it. I'd be shocked if we didn't see something in the next month or two on this. If it gets extremely bad I could look into something like this, but it would be a ton of work for potentially very little benefit. If you're out hiking somewhere you might be better off with a regular GPS than just the iPhone. (But if you do use geopher out and about please let me know how it works! =) )

Regarding copy/paste. Supposedly apple is working on this right now. It would not be trivial for me to take care of this myself. I'll keep my ear to the ground on this one, I agree it would be very useful to have.

Regarding sporadic updates and losing the GPS signal. This is on my list, I am a bit uncertain on how to go about this. If I do it incorrectly it will cause Geopher to not be as accurate. If I leave it alone it sounds like it will be problematic in certain situations. I'll do what I can here, but it will take a lot of tinkering and using my changes to make sure it works.

Regarding the google maps link from in Geopher Lite. The theory is that this shouldn't work any differently than in safari. I'll keep my eye open and see if I can find out what's the problem here, but no promises -- there may be nothing I can do about this short of rewriting the web view.

Regarding compass rotation. I will definitely have something here with apple's next firmware update, assuming that's more than a week or two away. =) As I mentioned before in practice this was much more annoying than I expected, expect something to happen here.

Along with the compass rotation I would like to have a better way to indicate accuracy on the target screen. I've not figured out the best way to do this, but it is on the list.

Someone also asked about cookies for the web view and remembering your user on If you choose the remember me checkbox when you log in to inside Geopher Lite it will remember you between sessions. That is already working.

To reiterate, In the currently under review update, I have made the web view a bit bigger and added a google maps button on the target screen as well as saving coordinates. Those are somewhat minimal changes, but they will alleviate a lot of concern and pain of use until I can get some of the other details worked out.

Whew. Big list. Thanks everyone for your patience and understanding. I hope that something is better than nothing and that I made the right decision to release this when I did. More later.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Okay, I lied.

I just can't leave it alone. ;)

I took my new iPhone 3G out for it's first geocaching run this evening. I left my magellan at home to see how it worked.

I intentionally drove a few miles. My work on saving coordinates paid off, I got to watch my testing coordinates move my target arrow down the road.

With the 3G phone I was able to quickly pull up the first traditional cache I could find. What luck, it was about 200 meters from me. In a park that doubled for a water basin along the road a block away. There were a bunch of kids there so I decided to look for another cache. I picked a cache that I recognized and had previously wanted to hit but hadn't had the time. I drove nearly right to it and wandered around for a minute. I didn't know how much to trust the GPS in the iPhone, so instead of trusting it I looked first where I thought the cache would be. After a minute or two I gave up and followed the coordinates, not really believing them.

And there it was, right where the iPhone said it should be. Within a meter. Guess I need to be less trusting of the haters out there that have trashed the GPS in the iPhone. =)

I came away from this experience with a couple of things.

First, it's much more annoying than I thought to not have the compass auto-rotate. This will be much easier to do with the new firmware that apple has in beta, but I may do something here sooner than that. Did I mention it was annoying? =) I wish I had had access to a 3G iPhone sooner, some o fthis would have been taken care of via testing like this.

Second, the screen going dark and locking is terribly annoying. I know how to fix this, but I didn't believe that it would be a huge issue. I hated this. Mark that one down for the next update.

Third, the arrow and coordinates are updating a ton. And I mean a TON. I may actually throttle back the updates, it really doesn't need to happen more than once or twice a second. It's nice, but it's got to be a battery drain.

Fourth, the accuracy is more of a problem than I thought. With no indication of accuracy I was never sure really how close I was to the cache. Once I lost the GPS signal and my range jumped to almost a kilometer then back again fairly quickly. I'll have to add something for both of these in there.

Gotta love usability testing. =)

Oh, I have added a FAQ here. Please post any questions and/or answers that you feel would be appropriate for geopher lite.

Again, I'm planning on doing a Q/A response to some of the comments here soon, but I won't force you to sit through that at the moment.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Some needed updates submitted just a few minutes ago. I wasn't so sure about the google directions thing, but after playing around with it I can see the draw. It's pretty well done.

Geopher Lite 1.0.3 Changelog
- Added a map button that will open the maps application with directions to your current target.
- Changed the keyboard popup for the waypoint to have a clear background.
- Added saving functionality to current and target location and waypoint information.
- Added help button (FAQ).
- Removed the Log button and waypoint text field. (May be re-added in the future)
- Reorganized the target selection screen.

My next focus will be the compass screen and what we can do there to make it more usable. I wasn't able to complete the skins implementation to my satisfaction so that will have to wait as well. (Sorry Victor!)

I may not do a whole lot the next few days, I have a lot of other stuff going on. I'll nibble at the compass screen UI and functionality while we wait for apple to approve this next update. I'll probably post tomorrow or saturday with some feedback on some of the comments you guys have left as well. I may not be able to keep that up forever, but I'll do what I can until it becomes unmanageable.

Per usual, feedback and comments are welcome. Thanks for dropping by.

What goes down...

...must come up?

I think I'm going to lose more hair on this project than any other I've done to date.

Good and bad news.

First the bad. I've had some further discussion via email with the groundspeak guys, and there will be no changes. I can't do anything particularly useful with the site other than display it.

However, the good news is that I can keep the app in the app store. As long as I don't infringe on their terms of use we will be okay. (Geopher Lite as-is is not currently breaking their terms of use) That includes things like auto-entering coordinates. (Sorry) I can tell already that this will be the number one unfulfilled request. It's a pain, but there is little I can do here, at least in the short term.

This means a few things for geopher and geopher lite. One is that geopher lite may become geopher full, simply because I won't be able to do what I'd like to do with the data. I understand in a way why groundspeak is so protective of their data. It's hard-earned. As a geocacher I am disappointed that I won't get any sort of functionality like geocache navigator on the iPhone. (And I didn't even know that that software existed more than two weeks ago) Regardless, I am going to continue to work on Geopher Lite and continue to update it, both with functionality and bug fixes. If they will actually merge I haven't decided, but this makes that a much greater possibility.

As I am back in town I will be picking up my iPhone 3G tomorrow, assuming the AT&T store isn't closed for a state holiday that falls on the 24th of July. That would be just my luck. =) However, as it's a state holiday I have tomorrow off of work and plan on spending it for the betterment of Geopher Lite. Look for an additional post tomorrow about what I have done, likely in the evening.

If you have purchased Geopher Lite, please leave feedback on if you are having problems with the arrow not moving problem that has already been mentioned. I have only been able to test this with a first generation iPhone, however the arrow has moved properly for me when driving around in a car. (cell towers don't get me that reliable of a fix on the first gen iPhone) I would be interested in hearing more on this. I know of a possible workaround to force updates more often in the code, but it's not recommended by apple and according to their documentation what I have currently should "just work".

I would also like in general to have feedback for the application. What you do and don't like, complaints, concerns and praise are all accepted. I won't promise I'll fix your personal gripe, but I will promise to read it and ponder why you are saying what you are saying. =)

Also, to answer a few questions / comments.

I will not be allowed to directly access .GPX or .LOC files regardless of premium or not status. That is against the terms of use. (I can't even grab the target coordinates off of the web page and pre-fill the text fields with that information... I am pretty restricted on gathering the data)

To enter coordinates you can use decimal coordinates or hour and decimal minutes coordinates. uses hour and then decimal minutes as a format, that is the default that is displayed in Geopher Lite. Look here for more on how this works. I should also mention that full hour, minute, second input and display is on the list as is an option to choose the default coordinate style. Also you don't need to enter the degree symbol, just use a space there. The text field will auto-format once you are done and that will help give you feedback on the data you enter here.

Miles versus kilometers is on the list. It's not a high priority, but it's there.

Additionally someone on the app store reviews inferred that the compass itself not rotating was an issue. That is on the list.

My highest priority is saving the target information between sessions. That's an annoyance that should have never been there and I apologize for that.

One last thing. Would it be more harmful than helpful to put a link up inside the app to the google maps directions based on the currently selected target? What do you all think?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


And the roller coaster continues.

I just checked my mail at lunch and found a reply from groundspeak.

Not only did they deny my request for obtaining information in ways other than loading a standard web page, they also have asked me to not distribute Geopher Lite in it's current form.

Let me make it clear that I've been very careful in my initial offering to NOT infringe on their terms of use. For example, the reason that you have to manually enter in coordinates from the web view is that I have to "scrape" the coordinates off the web page. Geopher Lite is somewhat annoying to use precisely because of the limitations I had in groundspeak's terms of use agreements. It's not that I am a bad coder (javascript being the exception there due to inexperience =) ), it's that there's not a lot of other options on how to get this accomplished within the current limitations of their terms of use.

I won't post the email here as I'm not sure it was intended for public view, but I don't feel bad about posting a couple of snippets. It said among other things "the fact that your application is commercial (read: for sale) is not acceptable" and "we are not currently willing to provide permission for the commercial use of our data on an iPhone".


I've sent an email to apple legal to take down Geopher Lite from their site. I am uncertain if Geopher Lite will continue to exist after this. I may pursue this again in the future, but for the moment it is on hold until things change.

That said, I am still planning on making a geocaching application with some of the aforementioned features still to come. It will not, however, involve groundspeak's website directly unless I hear otherwise from them. It will be just another PDA style geocaching helper. Which is disappointing to me because I know it could be so much more. Ah well. This other application will be coming, though I'm a bit discouraged at the moment.

I would urge you to make your voice heard over at the forums about getting something going on the iPhone. I'm not going to put up a link here, I don't want to encourage spam. I would encourage anyone who wants something like this to post and let the people know that there is demand for this on the iPhone.

As always, I'll keep you updated. I'm not done yet.


After hours and hours of back and forth with apple, we are finally in the app store!

I have changed the price to $1.99. I am also intending on making feature updates in Geopher Lite. I'll be posting an update to apple in the next day or two which will contain some of these.

It was interesting to find out I was posted on the app store by people yelling about the price. I had changed the price to $3.99 to try and get apple to look at the app faster. That succeeded, as a few hours after I had changed the price they sent me an email asking about some of the functionality. I never got to readjust the price (I forgot frankly) and the last word I had from apple was that the web view didn't add sufficient functionality above and beyond safari. Meaning that Geopher Lite was not to be posted to the web store. I *REMOVED* some features and resubmitted, expecting nothing short of a miracle on getting approved. Apparently apple relented but I still would not have known that anything had changed here other than seeing my app up on the store.

Rocky start I guess. What else is new? =)

I am still out of town but will be home late this evening. I'll get an update in when I can.

For those who are worried or nervous:
The app available hasn't particularly changed since July 9th when I originally submitted it to apple in an attempt to get something out there as quickly as possible via the app store. More development has been planned for the lite version irregardless of the main Geopher version. I hadn't expected to be jumping through so many hoops with apple the last few weeks.

Also for those who have been following the blog, I have heard back from groundspeak and currently have their OK to use a web view to get at their data. According to their terms I can't go any farther (or at least it could be considered against their terms of use to go farther) until I work something out with them and that is in the process. They didn't give me (initially) any more approval than what is already stated in their license agreement. I'm doing what I can (legally) to make this all happen. Please be patient, I am optimistic that we are getting there.

Until then thanks for sticking around.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

any javascript gurus out there?

Still not approved by apple. Doesn't surprise me, I'm expecting moday at the earliest. I did get news today that my iPhone is on it's way to my AT&T store, so I should have it in my hands by the end of the week. Having the GPS will help immensely for testing the compass rotation. I've had to test the arrow movement while driving around town in the car with a 1st gen iPhone. That's less than ideal.

I also want to give you guys a heads up, I will be out of town for a couple of days, so updates may be sparse. I'm taking my laptop, but I'm not sure if I will have internet access or not. I'll try to check and do what I can to at least find out if I get approved or not. =)

Technical stuff to follow, if you're interested.

I've been working on getting the content via other means than making the user choose links and enter data into text fields. I'm doing pretty okay so far, but I've run into two hangups.

First, I need to figure out how to complete the login process on via javascript. Being brand new at javascript I feel a little in the dark, but it doesn't seem terribly difficult. I just don't have anyone to ask questions to, so it's slow going at times. =) I have code that I thought would submit the login button, but it seems to be rejected for some reason by the webpage. the submit call isn't happy. I can load the text fields and the "remember" checkbox, but submitting the button is giving me an error. I must be missing something fairly simple.

The second is the ability to get a portion of a webpage via a javascript call. I have access to javascript on the page, but not necessarily direct access to the content. So I need to figure out how to grab data from the webpage with javascript. For search listings for example, I need to have a list of surrounding caches that you get in real-time from the website. I can load the page easily using some of apple's technology to do so, but getting the data back out of the web view is another matter. I've looked at document.body and document.documentElement. It looks like documentElement has the best chance at getting what I need so far, but it seems like there should be an easier way. Guess we will see.

Any javascript gurus out there that can point me in the right direction?


After reading the groundspeak licensing agreement, they specifically have a clause in there saying that I will need their permission to do this. So while I may get this to work, I may not be able to use it without permission. Ugh, the red tape. =) I Guess I am waiting to hear back from groundspeak and apple both.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Still no word

I've heard nothing from apple. I'm a bit surprised that the approval process takes so long. I suspect that geopher lite has been bumped to the back of the queue or something.

In related news I have sent an email to groundspeak asking what their thoughts were on an iPhone app that integrated with their site, but I've received no word back yet there either.

I've decided to move forward anyway and work on an alternate form of navigation to caches. I have to make the assumption that apple may reject the current form of the web view in geopher. Which means that I'll have to do the work of parsing the HTML myself. Not an overnight task, at least not right now -- this is a part time thing that comes at the expense of my full time job and family.


On my short-term list of things to implement are the following items:
- saving target information between sessions
- revamping the navigation to caches so that apple will be happy with it.
- multiple "default" skins to choose from.
- an option for compass rotation to point north regardless of direction you are moving.

Longer term items (which will likely go in the non-lite version) include:
- implementing a skinning method that will be available to the end user.
- GPX parsing and importing
- managed cache lists
- advanced search features and possibly saved searches

There are more things as well I'd like to do but these are for sure on the list. I'd hate to announce other things and then not deliver.

I apologize, I had wanted to get something complete and in the store for people to use until I could get more features done. I guess we'll all have to wait a bit.

Also I want to thank victor for providing some skins that I will make available in Geopher Lite as soon as I can. If the current version that is approved gets accepted I'll integrate them into that with the next update. Otherwise they will have to wait with the rest of the short term list to be completed.

As always thanks everyone for your support and encouragement.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Q & A

Thanks everyone for the kind words. I am planning on making this app happen, I've certainly not given up. I resubmitted the app last night around 11 PM Pacific time. Hopefully apple will get back to me before the end of today with a response.

I want to answer some questions asked in the comments recently.

Q: do you sign in to it like you would on the Twitter or Facebook clients (which are in the app store now)?

A: Currently you use the web interface to sign in to For obvious reasons I may have to change that, but to get the information you will need to be signed in, either though my app or via the web. (Unfortunately cookies aren't shared between safari and applications, so you have to sign in separately with both. Which means with the latest changes you definitely want to check the "remember" checkbox when signing in!)

Q: Out of curiosity will you be able to look at a map (perhaps google maps on and be able to view all unfound surrounding caches as if you were using a query?

A: I do have links set up and ready to go for looking at the map view of I played with that some and unfortunately I can't actually GET data from the web view or safari. So while I can provide a one-way interface
to get to the maps version of, it's not really useful -- you can't get the data entered easily. I do want to do something here, so I'll keep playing around with it. On my desktop machine I almost exclusively use the map view to find nearby caches, so I understand the appeal.

Q: I have one question though, as I do not have a 3G iPhone would I still be able to use the software as an offline tool for paperless caching, e.g. load my gpx file into the software and then use it to get cache descriptions, hints, etc. while using my GPSr to find the cache.

A: GPX support is interesting. I am working on a way to get GPX files directly from (assuming you are logged in), but I haven't gotten that down yet. I am fairly new to web programming, so I'll need to brush up a bit on some javascript to do more there.

As far as offline caching. That is planned, however it is not done yet. That was going to be for the non-lite geopher version. I'll have more details as that gets closer. I do plan on supporting an offline mode, and being able to sue that on a touch or any iPhone. Geocaching and GPS use in general tends to happen out of service ranges as often as in service range, and it would be silly to limit the app to online only.

Q: I take it doesn't have an API to allow more direct integration with your data for recording logs etc?

A: has no public API that I am aware of, other than the POST codes that I've been able to glean from general usage of the site. In the non-lite version of Geopher I was planning on not ever seeing a web page -- you would just use the app and be able to log caches, manage cache lists, etc all from within the application, oOnline or offline. I have plans to contact groundspeak about this once I start developing this more -- until the lite version is approved (which uses groundspeak's web interface instead of it's own) I've held off. I don't want to do a bunch of development and have apple deny me. Again. ;)

Thanks again for the support everyone.

I'll post again when I hear back from apple, hopefully later today.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


So, I heard back from apple this evening.

Here is what was said about geopher:

Hi [Geopher Developer],

Your application, Geopher Lite, cannot be posted to the App Store because it violates section 3.3.5 of the iPhone SDK Agreement; "Applications must comply with the Human Interface Guidelines and other Documentation provided by Apple."

Geopher Lite duplicates the functionality of the built-in iPhone application Safari without providing sufficient differentiation or added functionality, which will lead to user confusion. The app should launch Safari when the "Go!" and "Log" buttons are selected, instead of navigating within the app.

Uhm.... wha?

I am a bit upset at this development. I totally didn't expect this one.


I'll be removing the forward and back buttons from the bottom of the toolbar. I will make the log button take you to safari to enter a log instead of staying within geopher's web pane. And I will resubmit the app with my reasons and arguments for using the web pane for entering target latitude and longitude.

If they still disallow it after that I'm not sure what will happen to geopher. Without that it's... well, it's likely not worth paying for thats fur sure. Or possibly even using -- you lose all the convenience.

How frustrating.

I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New screenshots.

Even though things aren't all the way through the app store process yet, I decided I couldn't wait to make a few improvements. I've again swapped around some of the buttons and text fields, cleaned up the user interface some, and made it a little spiffier in general. Here are a few screenshots of the new tweaks, most noticeable in the set target view.

We're getting close, I can feel it. =)

Tick Tock

Another quick update.

I talked back and forth with someone at apple today to get the app through the chain. There was a misunderstanding of some of the functionality -- he was entering his username in the waypoint field. Which I have labeled currently as geocache ID. Guess I'll have to change that. The resolution to that email conversation was that my app would continue forward in the review process. However that works.

Slowly but surely.

I am looking at finishing a few minor improvements that will hopefully be done this week. Mostly polish stuff.

Slowly but surely.

More Info

So I got an email from apple this evening that I somehow missed as well.

Looks like a form letter. Here's the text:

Hello Geopher Developer,

Your application, Geopher Demo, cannot be posted to the App Store because it is a demo version. We are not accepting any demo, trial, or pre-release versions, as all apps must be fully functional. You may append Free or Lite to the name, but still must remove all references to Demo in the app. You may point out that there is another version within your app's info panel. All buttons that are not active in this version must be grayed out or removed.

Developer Technical Support

Unfortunately, Geopher Demo WAS fully functional, it was just a sort of preview of things to come.


Geopher Demo is now Geopher Lite. And I'll let you know when it makes it BACK through the submission process. :/

Thanks for your patience. In the meantime, drop me a note with desired features and functionality if you've got it. Thanks for following the drama. =)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Quick note...

Another quick note... Since my app seems to be perpetually "In Review" I have changed it from the free pricing tier to be $1.99. I am hoping that this will allow for the review process to be sped up -- Apple will actually be getting something out of this now.

This also means that I will be updating the demo a bit more before I move on to full Geopher development. I have a few ideas, but I am also open to (small) requests in relation to the demo. Big requests will likely be combined into the full version of Geopher.

Thanks for dropping by, more later.

Edit: I had some family things to attend to this evening, but when I came back the Geopher Demo's status had changed. It read "Rejected". Doh! However, it asked me to rebuild and re-submit it. I have done so and it is again in review. I think that if things have been done correctly, we will see Geopher Demo in the app store sometime tomorrow. Guess the free vs. paid made a difference after all. Well, that or I'm a bit superstitious. But then, wouldn't you be?

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Just a quick update before I go to bed.

Geopher Demo is still not available via the app store. It is still marked as "Under Review". I expect that it has made it past any automated testing on apple's part and is sitting in someone's queue waiting for human approval for the app store.

In other news I've made a breakthrough of sorts in getting cache information without actually displaying a webpage. Or at least getting the actual HTML of any url (web page) I want via the iPhone. It looks very possible to deliver on my favorite geopher feature -- a "go!" style button that searches and then automatically targets the closest cache for you. I knew this would be possible, but didn't expect it to be quite as quick of an answer. There are a number of details to work out on exactly what the best criteria and such to use with this button, how to access this feature, etc. But that's just logistics at this point. Design details. Anyhow.

If you didn't understand any of that let me sum up. Good news, we're making progress! =)

I'll keep you updated.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Geopher Lite FAQ

Question: What is geocaching?
Answer: Read this, it answers that question better than I could.

Question: Why do I have to enter my own target coordinates into Geopher Lite? Why not fill them in for me?
Answer:'s terms of use do not currently allow 3rd party applications to use data from in any way other than through a web page. Auto-filling the coordinates for a geocache would violate this agreement. I have spoken with groundspeak (the company that owns and they have asked that I keep their standard terms of use agreement until further notice.

Question: Why doesn't Geopher Lite keep me logged in to
Answer: It can, but it works the same way that a web browser would work. Make sure to check the "Keep me logged in" checkbox when you log in and Geopher Lite will remember your login. (Once you have entered your username and password, zoom out and this checkbox is right underneath the username and password fields)

Question: What format can I use to enter target latitude and longitude coordinates?
Answer: Currently Geopher Lite supports decimal degrees and Hour with decimal minutes.'s default format is in Hours and decimal minutes. See this link for more details on latitude and longitude formats. Since it can be a pain to enter the ° symbol, geopher uses a space instead. Geopher will auto-format the data in Hours and decimal minutes format. This gives you immediate feedback on what Geopher Lite thinks you have entered. Currently Still a bit confused? Me too! =) Look at the examples below.

Example of hour and minute degrees:
(normal) N 40° 05.849 W 111° 39.395
(in Geopher Lite) N 40 5.849 W 111 39.395

Example of latitude and longitude degrees:
(normal) N 40.097483° W 111.656583°
(in Geopher Lite) 40.097483 -111.656583

Note: Geopher Lite only understands the following characters: ".-1234567890NESW ". Geopher Lite substitutes all characters other than these with a space. If it is more convenient you can use something other than a space when entering coordinates.
**Update: With 1.0.4 Geopher Lite enters a partial latitude/longitude based on your current location to make entering coordinates easier.

Question: Can I change the layout of the compass screen? What about the graphics?
Answer: In version 1.0.4 (now released) Geopher Lite will have a limited number of options to choose from when displaying the compass screen. Support for a general skinning method is being considered.

Question: Where are Geopher Lite's preferences?
Answer: The preferences are under apple's settings app towards the bottom. If there is demand I can put the settings inside of Geopher Lite to make them more easily accessable.

Question: What are some other preferences I can change?
Answer: Currently you can change from metric to standard measurements, toggle on and off previously found caches, and change the appearance of the target screen. More preferences may be forthcoming.

Question: Does the compass point north or just at the top of the screen all the time?
Answer: The compass points to the top of the screen. The iPhone does not contain a real compass. However there are plans to create a preference to rotate the compass in a future update.

Question: What about the arrow?
Answer: The arrow overlay points in the direction of the cache as it relates to north. So if you point your iPhone north, the arrow will point towards the target you have set.

Question: Can Geopher Lite save a list of geocaches for me to reference?
Answer: No. Something like this to a smaller scale is being considered for an update, but may only be implemented in the full version of geopher.

Question: Does Geopher Lite support .GPX or .LOC files?
Answer: Syncing these files to Geopher will be in the full version, but probably will not be in Geopher Lite. Keep an eye on things, you never know.

Question: Do you support more sites than for geocaching information?
Answer: Not currently. I am open to supporting other sites, but in my limited research other sites do not have enough data to be very useful for an on-the-go type of geocaching software like Geopher Lite. If you feel differently, please contact me about it. I'd love to hear of alternatives for tighter integration. ( is being looked into, if you have experience with this site and would like to help with the URL formatting please contact me)

Question: Will I be able to upgrade Geopher Lite to the full version when it is available?
Answer: Currently apple doesn't allow this. I am looking into the possibility of doing this in other ways, but for the time being Geopher Lite will stay as a Lite version.

Question: The app doesn't work!
Answer: Apple has a few bugs in their software still. Sometimes applications won't launch or the GPS won't work quite right. Try rebooting your phone (hold down the lock and home button both for 5 seconds to shut it down then turn it on again). If the problems persist try deleting the app off of your phone and re-syncing or re-downloading the app. If all else fails, email me!

This FAQ will be updated as questions are asked. Thanks for using Geopher Lite!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Wait for it....

According to ars technica, it may be a bit before geopher demo is submitted to the app store. I guess we will see.

At least it's still in review after a couple of days rather than rejected.

It sounds like the first wave of iPhones are sold out at nearly every store as well, with a ton of customers preordering one for next week.

If you are looking to get the new iPhone this weekend, best of luck!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Apple store submitted

Geopher has been submitted to the apple store.

I've made some significant changes, but time is short. I'll post more details about the state of geopher demo soon.

In the meantime, have some screenshots.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Like a puzzle...

... everything is starting to come together.

Because of the self-imposed time crunch, I think this is very close to what the initial demo will look like. However, signifigant progress has been made.

The application is now a "flip" utility, meaning it has two panes you flip back and forth between. This was surprisingly more effort than I expected, though obviously doable. I can also tell that the sample code I looked at for both what I had and what I moved towards were written by two very distinct people.

This main screen hasn't changed much. I wanted to keep this as simple as possible. The bearing still needs fixed, I just can't bring myself to do that this evening. Maybe tomorrow. I have yet to get back to tweaking the images, I may do more o fthat this evening if I am up to it. I am also somewhat skeptical of the distance displayed between the current location and the target. Either my default position is much closer than I expected or the math there is off as well. Did I mention I never had a head for math? I suspect it's not as much that as how math is generally taught. Anyway.

This screen has had the biggest breakthrough yet. A web interface in a sub-pane. This will allow for quick searching of caches based on the current location, allowing the user to spontaneously whip out an iPhone, search on the current location, and choose a cache to make their target. This isn't quite ideal, however I'll save the one button press geocaching for the real app, not the demo. Assuming the geocache ID is entered properly, you can also jump straight to the log page and quickly mark the cache as found.

The flipside is remarkably cramped compared to the main screen. There's really just not the real estate I'd like for all the functionality. That or my UI design needs improvement. Maybe both. I'll be cleaning that up as much as I can for the release, but that may not be much between now and then.

The little black info button in the bottom left will bring up a splash screen touting the wonders of the full version which will be Coming Soon™.

More information to follow. Stay tuned!


It's getting there.

Lots and lots to do still. It's been since junior high pretty much since I did latitude/longitude conversions to radians and a 360 degree circle sort of layout. Wish me luck on my math! As a sidenote here, apparently apple already did the haversine calculations and has a method available to calculate the distance between two latitude/longitude points. That was a waste of time to code up myself. Live and learn.

If all goes well, I'll post more updates this evening. The deadline for initial app store availability (presumably July 11th) is in approximately 48 hours. Wish me luck, I'll need it. =)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Early preview

Well, after a lot of thought and some development, the geopher demo is vaguely functional. Here's a picture for history of a pre-alpha in progress shot of goepher's demo.

The arrow and compass need some work. Graphically I like the compass, though I might not keep it blue and it needs better designations for N/E/S/W. The arrow needs some attention, but it will server it's purpose for now. Eventually the arrow will point the direction towards your selected target location, though it just points north currently. Expect better things here. I've not decided if the compass itself will rotate to indicate direction or if the arrow will. I might have to make that a preference, from the few people I have talked to it's a pretty split decision.

The target input fields need a redesign and will likely not be on this main page. I will be adding a bearing and/or heading on this page. If a geocache is selected as target I may add information about the cache with a "log it" link.

Hitting the map button goes to your current location as a map on, in apple's safari. Possibly later I'll add a frame within my application that will do all of that without having to go to safari. Maybe. Much later.

The overall design needs a lot of work, but it will get there. I had best get back to work, I need to add some Haversine Functionality.

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DadGuy has been working with apple computers since the mac classic. I love games and puzzles and like to solve problems. I'm having a blast developing for the iPhone and iPad.